The day the door of the Millennium Falcon fell on Harrison Ford, shattering his ankle, everyone thought Star Wars: The Force Awakens was doomed. But it turns out, the opposite happened. Co-writer and director J.J. Abrams recently revealed this delay helped him refocus the film’s most important relationship: Finn and Rey.
“When I was on the set of the Millennium Falcon and we started to do work with Rey and Finn, the first time we did it, it didn’t work at all,” Abrams said at the Tribeca Film Festival. “It was much more contentious. I didn’t direct it right. It was set up all wrong, and when Harrison Ford got injured—which was a very scary day—we ended up having a few weeks off, and it was during that time that I really got to look at what we had done and rewrite quite a bit of that relationship. So when we came back to work again, we actually just reshot from the ground up, those scenes. It was an amazingly helpful thing to get these two characters to where they needed to be.”
In the final movie, the relationship between the two is respectful, friendly and fun. It works incredibly well, helping the audience fall in love with them both.
Abrams also explained that while many people have complained The Force Awakens is nothing but a copy of A New Hope, that was actually the point, and he understands the frustration.
“The weird thing about that movie is that it had been so long since the last one. Obviously the prequels had existed in between and we wanted to, sort of, reclaim the story,” Abrams said. “So we very consciously—and I know it is derided for this—we very consciously tried to borrow familiar beats, so the rest of the movie could hang on something that we knew was Star Wars.”
Basically, they felt they wanted to give audiences a reminder of what made Star Wars great. Something simple and familiar. And then, Episodes VIII and IX could have the freedom to get weird.
“This movie was a bridge and a kind of reminder,” Abrams said. “The audience needed to be reminded what Star Wars is, but it needed to be established with something familiar, with a sense of where we are going to new lands, which is very much what 8 and 9 do.”